Every so often, a news story pops up about a mum breastfeeding in public. You know the stories I mean; mum feeds child, people lose their minds because she refused to remove herself from public view and inflicted some skin on unsuspecting members of the community.
Confronting, I know. Breasts have, I’m pretty sure, been scientifically proven to exist solely for sexual reasons, so people really have no business whipping them out for the nefarious purpose of feeding a child. So how best to handle someone breastfeeding in public if you see it?
Demand the mother leave your line of sight.
Your comfort is paramount in this situation. Why should you have to turn your head to look elsewhere? It’s basically a one-way ticket to whiplashville, my friend. You should let her know this, as that is not a lawsuit she will want to deal with. Injury, psychological trauma, medication, heat packs… It’s all possible; does she really want to take the risk? Much simpler for everyone if she take her hungry kid and breastfeed in the toilet. She can rest her water bottle on the sanitary disposal bin, after all. Some places even provide seats in parent’s rooms, right next to the change tables and nappy disposal bins.
I always carry a spare blanket for the purpose of draping over a breastfeeding child if there happens to be one. Some mothers will make noises about “over heating” and “breathing” but it’s really just an excuse to grab attention, am I right? Others will say their children will refuse to be covered while feeding, but that just comes down to discipline. If they can’t control their child while they are breastfeeding, then they need to face the fact that they are likely already raising a juvenile delinquent and have probably failed as a parent. You can help by letting them know this and telling them immediately that they can buy attractive neck-apron things designed specifically for hiding the fact that they are breastfeeding, because nothing says discretion like a colourful cloth strapped around your neck like a giant bib. Elegant, subtle and classy. No one would ever know what you were doing, wearing one of these!
A disapproving sigh and pointed glare is always a good way to initiate the whole “I’m uncomfortable with you feeding your child” conversation. It lets the mother know straight away that you are on to her selfish ways and won’t be tolerating her attention-seeking behaviour. Mothers often talk about the difficulties of breastfeeding, from poor latch through to mastitis. If it was so difficult, do you really think they’d keep doing it? They carry on about the health benefits, the immune system, the recommendations of every major health authority in the world for women to breastfeed if possible for at least 1-2 years and that’s all well and good but what is more important here- that a child is fed or that a whole bunch of strangers feel comfortable? Do the math, people! You can’t expect umpteen people to just look somewhere else! You can loudly voice your disapproval to whoever you are out and about with to subtly get your point across. Don’t forget to keep up the glare.
Suggest a pump.
If you do happen to see a mother breastfeeding in public, give her the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps she doesn’t know that there are pumps you can buy that enable them to express their milk in the privacy of their own home that they can bring with them to give in a bottle when out and about. Let her know about pumps! Some mothers complain that they have difficulty pumping but they are the ones who just aren’t dedicated enough. I know when I pumped milk, it would only take me 4 half-hour pumping sessions to get 120 mls of milk, which was enough for a young baby for one feed. So all a mother has to do is spend around 2 hours, usually spread out over a day in between 2 hourly breastfeeds, to be able to prepare for one feed in public. This means that in just 2 hours of pumping sessions, I would have had enough milk to go out in public for a good hour or two without needing to breastfeed. That would have left me with more than enough time to get to the shops, find a park, go to one shop and then leave in a panic to get home again before my baby started that whole “crying to be fed” thing again. Simple!
You could just look away, bugger off, mind your own business, keep your opinion to yourself and stop trying to make your hang-ups someone else’s problem to accommodate. Because, you know, breastfeeding in public is a right protected by state and federal law all over Australia. So every time a breastfeeding mum is told to remove herself from public view, leave a shop or restaurant, cover up, pump or is discriminated against in any way, there will be nurse-ins. There will be news articles and media coverage. Because each and every time it happens, it becomes obvious that people still can’t quite wrap their brains around the idea that breastfeeding is a normal, healthy way to feed a child and that it is a mother’s right to breastfeed their children, wherever they might be.
#IBOT @ Essentially Jess.